There’s no question that Bali is one of the most beautiful places that Ryan and I have ever been and we’ve taken the liberty of exploring much of the island on our current scooter, Purring Panther. Everywhere we go, the scenery only gets more and more impressive with bountiful rice terraces, gushing waterfalls, and lush volcanoes towering over glassy lakes. Locals fly kites on the volcanic black sand beaches. It’s a truly remarkable place!
My favorite drive thus far has been to Mount Batur which is an active volcano located northeast of where we live near the town of Ubud. We enjoyed the view (along with some tasty beverages) from Kintamani Coffee. Ryan got to have his beloved affogato, which is a scoop of vanilla ice cream drowned by a shot of hot espresso. Then we drove around the east side of the lake as far as we could go. This took us through many small villages along the way and offered more intoxicating scenery. We were gone all day and we liked it enough to repeat the adventure and explore the opposite side of the lake on our next visit where we saw lots of volcanic rock.
We’ve also viewed Mount Agung while keeping a respectful distance. Mount Agung’s last major eruption occurred in 1963, killing 1,000 people. Then, after years of silence, the volcano woke up in September of last year. A series of small eruptions that persisted over the next five months raised the alert to its highest possible level and caused thousands to evacuate, crushing my hopes of visiting as well, at least for the time being. I was thrilled when Indonesian authorities lowered the alert status again in February, declaring it safe for locals to return home and tourists to come and enjoy all that Bali has to offer. We booked our tickets before we could come to our senses. Although there was a small subsequent eruption in late April, the status remains at “standby” and there’s been no notable activity since we’ve been here. All things considered, we figured it was safe enough to do a liberal drive-by.
Rice terraces can be found all over Bali. We’ve driven by more than I can count, but I really enjoyed our visit to the Jatiluwih Rice Terraces. Not only were these rice terraces a sight to behold–with the tall grainy stalks blowing in the breeze, looking like a rippling sea–but they were a great place to walk around and get some exercise. There were many well-marked routes to choose from. We combined the short track (1.47km) and middle tracks (1.7km) and ended up hiking just over an hour. We stopped to enjoy a couple of refreshing coconuts along the way and admired a woman carrying a heavy looking load on her head. It was impressive!
We’ve visited a few waterfalls while we’ve been in Bali. The more touristy ones often have people at the entrance trying to get you to “support local business” by paying for an unnecessary guide, so we tend to skip these. Luckily there are many options to choose from here in Bali. The drive to Tibumana Waterfall took about 45 minutes from where we live near Ubud. The ticket price was a modest IDR 10k (which is less than $1 USD). Then it was a short 10 minute hike to get to the falls. I enjoyed the rock art almost as much as the falls themselves.
We also found our way to Dusun Kuning Waterfall (or the Yellow Waterfall). The entrance fee for this waterfall was IDR 15k. This hike was much longer–I’d say 30-45 minutes–with a steep staircase and some muddy, washed-out stretches of path, but it was a beautiful walk and a great opportunity to get some exercise. We didn’t pass a single person on the trail and once we got there, we had the falls all to ourselves! I wish we’d thought to bring a picnic lunch to enjoy along with the view. It was the perfect place to just relax and take in the scenery, along with the sound of rushing water.
Ryan and I are both more mountain people than water people, but we’ve stopped at a few beaches during our wandering. I most enjoyed the sight we encountered when we made our way to Pantai Masceti and saw people flying kites. This beach was very popular with locals and we got the impression that they weren’t used to seeing many tourists here. It was a little off the beaten path and somewhat hard to find. The volcanic sand was black and reminded me of the sand in Montserrat. It was a nice place to watch people pull their kites in as the sun set. They had the most amazing kites I’ve ever seen!
The traditional clothing that Balinese women wear is also worth mentioning because it’s absolutely gorgeous! The outfit is called a kebaya and it consists of a colorful ankle-length kain or sarong and a long fitted (often lacy) blouse. A sash is tied around the waist and seems to flatter most shapes and sizes, although I discovered that a corset is often worn under the semi-transparent blouse, so I’m sure that makes a difference as well. Still, of all of the traditional clothing we’ve seen throughout our travels, I think I’d been the most keen to wear these. With a huge assortment of colors and patterns, the possibilities are endless, just like the beauty of Bali itself!